A NOTE FROM JENNY...
I have fought on the front-line for many causes, for many years. The crunch came in 2005 with the Lantau Concept (read: Concrete) Plan. A group of us decided it was time to concentrate on creating a positive vision for Lantau and Hong Kong rather than always just battling development plans. We formed a blue-print called Ark Eden that envisioned Lantau as the ‘Garden Island of Hong Kong’.
It involved a main ecological centre with satellite centres all over Lantau using old rural schools, old abandoned houses and villages as eco-facilities where students, groups, businesses could engage in restorative work.
e.g. an old place in the hills could be a tree-planting centre, a place by the sea could focus on marine ecology, a place in an old village - a cultural heritage and learning from the elders and so on.
The central idea being that what people learned at Lantau could be adapted and applied to urban environments and be rolled out in curricula and business.
Then, as fate would have it, our main corner-stone person got cancer. His name was Neil Mcloughlin. He was an architect and had designed and overseen the building of Ocean Park and he was a great, great speaker. I visited him a week before he died. I never really knew if he could hear me but I talked a lot to him. I didn’t know if I could be any use at all but I ended up promising him I would ‘do’ Ark Eden.
Three weeks later I gave in my resignation. I worked at an English Schools Foundation which required 6 months’ notice and during that time, just about every teacher was worried for me. I was on my own with two teenage children, about to lose all my benefits. I had no business acumen, no money and no real plan. But I jumped.
The first few years were a roller coaster ride. I wrote and delivered over 25 different environmental education programmes in the first year alone. We focused on tree-planting, organic farming, eco-system studies, sustainable living, waste management, water conflicts - whatever schools asked for.
In 2013 we opened our second centre, and somewhere in between, we worked on making Ark Eden a permaculture demonstration site and ran courses, conferences, eco-camps, holiday programmes, and corporate trainings –whatever it was going to take to save the planet. My children and the people around Ark Eden supported the project and believed in us.
Fast forward to 2017 and now we work with 52 educational institutions from kindergartens to universities and like to think we are influencing curricula, educational instituions and creating local action. We work with 38 corporates and other groups and ask them to become more involved with ‘the great task in hand’; we have planted 32,000 native trees.
I think in our first ten years we have done a lot – and I look forward to doing so much more and hope you will join us in fulfilling this vision.